The Times of Their Lives
Chapter 9 -- To Everything There is a Season
As dawn arose, Chip finished laying out his plans. The others at the breakfast table looked at each other as thoughts on faces passed rapidly across the table.
"Well, what do you think?" Chip asked.
Basil put his hands on the table, and pushed up. "It’s dangerous, it’s risky….and it’s brilliant. I vote to try."
"But can we trust people we don’t even know?" Arianna asked. "If they don’t come through, Nimnul could end up killing us!"
"I know there’s a lot of risk in this," Chip said, "but we don’t have the power to stop Nimnul alone. If we allow him to escape, he can start the entire process over again. Maybe he already has!"
Dale didn’t like the sound of that. "So, uh, you mean even if we win, we might lose?"
"Temporal paradox," Basil said. "It’s like Klordane has a genie and unlimited wishes. As long as he’s outside the timeline, he’s a danger to us all!"
"But who are these people you keep mentioning?" Foxglove asked. "Why are you keeping us in the dark?"
Chip stood from the table now. "That’s not my doing! They said I could only tell you what we had to do. Otherwise, they’ll let the events run their course without interfering."
Chip couldn’t blame them for not wanting to go along with this plan, but what choice did they have? True, they had managed to best Klordane’s cronies. But now they were going after a much bigger fish than the lot of them put together. It was like the time Basil faced his arch-nemesis Professor Ratigan atop the Tower of London. If they weren’t careful, they could all slip off as easily as he did—and there would be no miracle to save them.
Basil could see the concern on the chipmunk’s face. He felt it too. This was the most important case of his life. It had taken time for it to sink in, but it was. Facing Ratigan was nothing compared to this! Traveling from time to time to time…it was almost more than he could take! They had overcome some incredible odds to reach this point. Now, they were going to play a game of pitch-and-toss and risk their existences on the outcome.
"We don’t have a choice," Basil and Chip said simultaneously.
They looked at each other, and it was as if their minds were one. They would go. They knew the others would, too.
Aldrin Klordane was a thinker. He’d learned early the use of his mind to promote his evil schemes. Now he was contemplating an idea he almost never considered—defeat. He’d been trying to rationalize the reasons for everything going wrong. Then, he’d let his anger take over and he had a tirade over the Rangers. Now, his emotions were spent and he was still in the same spot. What to do about them?
Then, he seized upon a thought. He didn’t have to do anything! Inevitably, these rodents would come looking for him. They already knew where he was. All he had to do was prepare for them.
A guard came into the Oval Office, interrupting his thoughts. "Uh, boss? This just came for you."
It was a note, addressed to him.
We’ve stopped you before
We’ll stop you again
We ruined your plans
And defeated your men
We’re waiting for you
Where it all began
We know you’ll come
And come again…
Klordane contemplated the words before him. **How much do they know?** That this was a trap was obvious, yet the skilful mind could find ways around that. The question was risk—a week ago, he’d have jumped in without a second thought. Now, with his men missing and his plans all askew, he knew he’d let overconfidence mar his judgement. Not this time.
"Professor? Professor!" Klordane shouted.
Nimnul ran in, covered with his latest experiment. "Yes, mister Klordane?"
"Professor, we’ve gone about this all wrong. I came up with a brilliant scheme, yet I was daunted—just like every time before! Now, we’re going for the direct approach," Klordane said.
Klordane started laying out what he wanted, and Nimnul shared a horrible grin with his crime boss.
The preparations for what was to come had everyone pretty silent in Arianna’s home. Even Jenkins, who was normally quite talkative, sensed the foreboding spirit clinging over everyone. He said as much to his mistress.
"I know, Jenkins," Arianna said. "I feel it, too. We are facing the unknown, which is the worst foe to face. These "people" Chip mentioned talking to might be our allies or our enemies. Still, he’s a good judge of character. I like him. And now we’re placing our lives in his hands."
Jenkins brought an ivory box, crafted with elephants on the top. "Then might I suggest an extra precaution?"
Arianna took the revolver, and the extra ammunition for it. She saw the look in Jenkins’ eyes. "Only if I have to, Jenkins. You’ve served me well—both as a contact in the service and now as manservant. I want you to know I find your service more than satisfactory and I would recommend you to anyone."
Jenkins smiled wistfully. "You always had a way with words, ma’am. I suppose that’s why I have stayed faithful to you."
"That and the government pay, you kidder," Arianna laughed softly. "If I do not return…"
"I will not return either. I am joining you, ma’am. For Queen and country," Jenkins said.
Chip had decided to take a walk to clear his brain. It always seemed to do the trick, and now was no exception. The fair London sky—an anomaly as Gadget would have told him—was cheerful and blue. The passers-by were all in hats and suits, hustling and bustling. Still, Chip noticed they found time to greet each other at street corners. The clopping of the horses on the cobblestone was a far cry from the normal city sounds, and gave the atmosphere an almost country-like feel.
A rushing passer-by brought the chipmunk back to reality, as Chip had to dodge the young boy or be splatted. The youth was just out having a good time, rollicking in the warmth of the sun. Chip watched him go across the street and join up with a bunch of his friends. Then the group of excited voices charged off in a new direction.
What had happened to those days? Chip could only wonder, for they seemed like yesterday. His early years with Dale, the fun he’d had with the Rangers. Now it seemed like a frail cloth that had been ripped away. Would he get his friends back? And if he did, would things be the same as they were? No, he knew they wouldn’t because if nothing else he wouldn’t be the same. The adventures of the last few days had tested everything he staked his well-being upon: his love for Gadget, his comradeship with Dale, his hero-worship for Sureluck Jones. What was real anymore? There was only one way to find out.
As Chip returned to the door behind the rosebush, Jenkins let him in. Chip noticed that he had changed his normal black butler’s outfit for a hunting outfit complete with shooter’s jacket and shotgun.
"I take it you’re joining us?" Chip asked.
"Quite, master Chip," Jenkins said. "I consider it my duty, as my mistress’ life is on the line."
Chip could have argued the point, but what for? The situation was bound to be life-threatening, and no there was no getting around it. Jenkins shadowed him as Chip strode into the conservatory. Everyone was waiting, and stood when they saw him coming.
"Well, Chip, are we ready?" Dale asked. "I’d like to get back to my life sometime."
Chip nodded. "I’ve got the letter ready. We’ll send it through just before we leave."
Basil watched as Arianna prepared the time machine for its duties. "Are you sure we should all go, Chip? If anything goes wrong…"
"The person on this end won’t know anyway. Besides, they said we’d have to prove ourselves. We’ll need everyone," Chip said.
Suddenly, Basil got a faraway glance. "Theirs is not to make reply…theirs is not to reason why…theirs is but to do and die…."
"Into the valley of Death rode the six hundred," Chip finished. "Well, these six will have to do better than those six hundred."
Arianna stood up from the machine. "Give me the letter, Chip. I will reset the device for our normal return time once it has activated."
The group gathered around, and watched as the letter vanished through the portal. Arianna reset the dials, and the portal opened again.
Chip looked at everyone. "Before we go, I want you all to know I’m proud to know you all. I don’t express my feelings too well, but if things don’t go our way I just wanted to make sure…"
"Say no more, Chip," Basil said. "We trust that destiny will be on the side of the good, but if we are not the ones who will stop Klordane we trust that someone will. I have no regrets."
"Nor have I," Arianna said, coming close to Basil. "We haven’t failed yet, though."
"Exactly!" Dale shouted. "I’m going in to win! Right, Foxy?"
"You mean we’re going in to win, right Dale?" Foxy asked.
Dale looked a bit sheepish. "Uh…right."
Everyone shared a warm chuckle. Chip was relieved in a way that Dale seemed to be the same, no matter what the timeline. He waved the others in, and the portal disappeared behind the last one in.
"Come on, Professor! They must be in place by now!" Klordane said.
Nimnul was in a bad mood, not to say that he was ever really in a good mood. He came into Klordane’s office, carrying several ray pistols.
"Are you sure these will do the job?" Klordane asked.
"How should I know?" Nimnul said. "You wouldn’t let me study them enough! But the guy I st..uh borrowed them from said as much."
Klordane took one of the pistols. It resembled the original phaser from the Star Trek series, but was all chrome and smooth. The barrel was cigar-shaped and the only moving part was the trigger.
"Be careful with that!" Nimnul shouted. "The temporal scrambler could send you into oblivion!"
Klordane smiled wickedly. "I’m not the one who’s going to oblivion, professor. Those infernal Rangers will have that honor. Hahahahaha!"
Klordane aimed the gun at a side table and fired. A powerful purplish beam came out and the table disappeared instantly with a humming sound.
"So where did it go?" Klordane asked.
"Well," Nimnul started, sensing his scientific genius was being recognized, "my theory is that it sends objects either into an alternate space-time continuum, an antitime universe, or most likely what we call limbo."
"Limbo?" Klordane asked. "I thought that was fantasy."
Nimnul looked like a teacher who was asked a stupid question. "Now don’t tell me limbo doesn’t exist! There is a provable mathematical probability of an area in the physical universe where the laws of time have no effect. And do you know what’s even better?"
"Oh, I’m all a-twitter…" Klordane said drolly.
"Once you’re in, there’s no way out!" Nimnul said, laughing heartily.
Klordane once again looked at the gun in his hand, realizing its power. "Finally. Finally, I will be rid of those vermin once and for all! Then the world and all that they fought to protect will be mine!"
Nimnul and Klordane shared another laugh, and then Nimnul left to distribute the guns to the men. **Soon Rangers. Soon the bell will toll for you for the last time**
The cave was dark and cold. It had been ten years since Chip had been here, yet the smell of it was still in his memory. An old and tomb-like smell. Basil lit a candle.
"So this is where it all happened?" Basil asked, his voice echoing through the large chamber.
"Yep. Here we stopped Nimnul and brought him to justice," Chip said.
The group walked around carefully, and then Basil found the light switch. The cavern was flooded with light, and Chip was amazed to see that everything was just as he remembered it. The train tracks. The mountain of gelatin. The laser machine. The only difference was they had not been here to stop Nimnul this time and all the gold was gone.
"We’d better take our places," Chip said.
In a few minutes, a group of humans appeared in a flash of light, led by Klordane.
"Chip? Chip, I know you’re here somewhere!" Klordane said, his voice seeming to search the cavern for him.
Chip’s voice returned, "We’re here, Klordane."
Klordane’s face took on an almost genial attitude. "I was touched to receive your invitation, my lad. Let me congratulate you on the choice of setting. And just one day after my greatest triumph, too!"
"Well, you know what they say. The criminal always returns to the scene of the crime," Chip replied.
Klordane’s henchmen began scouting about. "Again and again, as you say. You don’t know how many times I’ve had to do this, Chip. It took me ten separate attempts just to figure out how to take all of you out at one time."
Chip was surprised at this. "You mean this isn’t the first time you’ve tried this?"
"Not at all! A tribute to your leadership, Chip. And still you keep coming! You know, I considered just letting you win this time and starting over. But then I realized that if you and your allies weren’t around, there wouldn’t have to be a next time!" Klordane said.
Chip knew Klordane was just buying time. It was just a question of when the attack was coming. "You’re not going to win this time, Klordane! We’ll stop you!"
"Brave words, chipmunk. But words won’t save you! Time is still on my side. You failed to stop me before, and in a few minutes you will be no more!"
With that, the henchmen opened up. Rock began disappearing from different parts of the cave.
"Arianna, give them the works!" Chip shouted, covering his ears.
The others did too, for Arianna was about to sing. She did, her voice reverberating in what turned out to be a perfect echo chamber. The vibrations shook the ceiling as her voice searched higher and higher into its register.
At high C, the men dropped their guns and screamed. At C above high C, they knelt and covered their ears. Then Arianna had to pause for breath.
"Get rid of her!" Klordane shouted, pulling out his own gun.
As Arianna began to move back in high range, rays shot from everywhere. Soon the rock behind which Arianna was hiding disappeared. Klordane winced as he took aim and fired.
"Arianna! NO!" Basil shouted, but it was too late. She disappeared.
"Charge!" Klordane shouted in reply, and the gunsels homed in on the area where they’d seen Arianna.
Chip couldn’t believe Arianna was gone, but she had bought them the time they needed. Chip, Basil and the others had been setting up a large boulder to activate Nimnul’s Fruitquake. With a mighty shove, the boulder started rolling.
"This one’s for you, Arianna!" Jenkins shouted.
The small heroes braced for the impact, but it never came. Klordane had sent the boulder into nowhere. Outmaneuvered, the animals were now at the humans’ mercy. One by one they disappeared—Dale, Foxglove, Basil and Jenkins. Then, only Chip was left.
Klordane approached slowly, the gun pointed at him. "I’m going to remember and savor this moment for as long as I live!"
Chip was shaking now, knowing it was all over.
"And to think I once thought you were a problem. Now farewell, Chip! Rescue Rangers, AWAY!" Klordane shouted as he fired.
Chip shut his eyes as the beam sought him out. He felt its impact, heard a humming sound.
And all was darkness.
Klordane just looked at the spot where Chip had been, somehow expecting more. When it didn’t happen, he turned to his men.
"Okay, let’s get back to business. Nimnul, I want my cat and my other men found! That should keep you occupied for a while," Nimnul said.
Nimnul grumbled about it all the way back to the time machine. He set the controls.
Klordane signaled Nimnul to wait a moment. "To think, after all this time, I finally am on the top of the world! It took me years and countless efforts, but now I can at last take my place in the timeline free of those miserable rodents!"
The portal opened and the criminals went through. They returned to the White House, and Klordane turned to go in.
"Men, you can remove your temporal stabilizers now. We’ve won!" Klordane said.
Everyone did so, including Klordane.
And all was darkness.
The first thing Chip was aware of was the cold stone beneath his feet. Then he realized that someone was helping him up. It was still dark though. Then a spotlight, chipmunk size, appeared. Another spotlight appeared on a semicircular bench of hooded animals. The seven creatures were totally shrouded in white, making it hard to look at them for the glare that contrasted with the outer darkness. The being in the middle stood.
"Come forward!" a male voice boomed.
Chip could feel the hands on both sides helping him to the spotlight. When he got there, he realized why he couldn’t see his assistants. They were dressed totally in black!
"Guards, release him," a female voice said.
They did so. The female voice continued.
"Chip Maplewood, do you stand responsible for the acts of your team?"
Chip nodded, and managed a "yes."
"Then bring forth the accused."
Two different blackguards brought forth a female mouse inventor between them. Her face shone as she saw who was in the spotlight. She broke free of the guards, ran to him and embraced him.
"Chip! Oh, Chip am I glad to see you again!" Gadget said, hugging him close.
Chip didn’t know what to do. Was this his Gadget, or…
"Gadget, what do you remember?" Chip asked.
Gadget pulled gently away from him. "Well, after you took my bracelet off I ended up here. It was all dark. I felt someone grab me and they brought me right here."
Chip was aghast. "You mean you just got here? But you’ve been gone..."
The male voice interrupted. "Enough. Gadget Hackwrench, you developed a temporal gateway, did you not?"
"Y..y-yes," Gadget said.
The central figure, from whom the voice was apparently coming, rose and pointed into the darkness. A spotlight appeared, and Gadget’s time machine was in the middle.
"Is this the gateway in question?" the figure asked.
"Yes," Gadget answered.
The figure waved his gloved hand, and the spotlight ended. "Enter the testator’s statement into the record. Do you attest that your intentions were honorable?"
"Absolutely!" Gadget said. "I was just curious to see how the pyramids of Egypt were built! Then I was pulled into another sector of space, and my blueprints were left behind. I simply forgot to go get them!"
The robed figure to the left of the standing one said, "I recommend confirmation. Let the mind probe be done."
Gadget cringed a bit, and Chip started to protest. But then the council member furthest right said, "The probe is done. Her words are valid."
All attention returned to the standing member. "Let the others be brought forward."
One by one they were escorted in—Monty, Zipper, Foxglove, Dale, Basil, Arianna and Jenkins. They all stood together with Chip and Gadget, as greetings went all around. Again, the central figure called for silence.
"Basil Hackwrench, Arianna Ideler, Maynard Jenkins and the group known as the Rescue Rangers. It is the judgment of the temporal court that you did use a temporal gateway frivolously. However, it would seem you did not do so with malicious intent. You will thus not be held accountable."
The accused breathed a heavy sigh of relief. Then, another spotlight appeared. A group of humans were led into the court, restricted by force fields that acted by shackles. Chip and the others just stood and stared. Now they could tell that the room was much larger than they had previously thought, for Klordane and his men easily fit within it.
The council table rose into the air, seemingly of its own will. The central figure was still standing, defying gravity.
"Aldrin Armstrong Klordane, you have committed the most heinous temporal acts that this council has been forced to consider. We have awaited this time for many days, but now your judgment can commence," the figure said.
With that, the figures pulled off their coverings. They had all aged some except for one, but the figures were all very familiar.
"Sir Wilfred Erskine!" Monty said.
Dale pointed at shouted, "Lucien!"
Gadget gasped. "Dad?!"
Foxglove did too. "Uncle Bedivere!"
Chip couldn’t believe it. "Mom! Dad!"
Every one of them was wearing a temporal stabilizer. Sir Wilfred looked sternly at Klordane. "Each of us in turn was judged worthy to stand on this ‘ere council. We all either disappeared or were presumed dead and were chosen. It’s no accident, Klordane, that you’re facing that group to your left. The ripples of time flowed together."
Now Roger Maplewood stood. "Klordane, my wife and I witnessed your criminal schemes firsthand. But this atrocity is by far the worst that has been inflicted on mankind."
As Roger spoke, a viewscreen of energy appeared behind him. "Our records show that once you stole the temporal stabilizers, you attempted to change history on seventeen separate occasions."
"At last, you succeeded in cheating fate," Jennifer continued. "Or so you thought. We were given the honor of protecting our descendents."
Now Bedivere spoke. "We rustled your messages and put in our own. In other words, we hoodwinked ya!"
"And I ‘elped guide Chip and Dale to their destination in India," Sir Wilfred added. "I was the only one who act’lly interacted with them, for fear we’d further corrupt the timeline."
"You still made a big blunder with zat safari outfit!" Lucien said. "Had Chip or Dale realized it was out of place, zee whole plan could ‘ave come undone!"
"Plan?" Klordane said. "You mean, all this was a plan to trap me!?"
"But of course!" Lucien shouted. "After sixteen times of developing your plan, you were…how you say…predictable. We watched you lay out your plans, zen we followed you to every destination."
"You intended for ‘em to have to get the diamonds to form a solution to your cryptic puzzle," Geegaw said. "Actually, extremely clever on your part. We gave the Rangers and their allies a push in the right direction."
Now the viewscreen activated and showed the scene in Basil’s room where the Rangers had been trapped and separated by time.
"We allowed you to think you had erased all the Rangers but Chip from existence, so that your guard would be down," Roger said. "We brought them here, and now we have brought the rest of you here to the same point in time."
"So those guns we stole.." Klordane started.
"Were actually temporal teleporters to bring ‘em here," Bedivere said. "Thank you for the help, ya sidewinder! We’ve got those shootin’ irons back, too."
"We knew you couldn’t resist the challenge of a final confrontation, and what better than to let you think you’d succeeded?" Geegaw said. "As we’ve said, you are predictable."
Chip and the others all had been looking at each other, and now the chipmunk refused to listen any further. "Wait a minute! Do you mean you put us through all that, and none of it was real? None of it was necessary?!"
Jennifer looked down at him tenderly, "Oh, darling, it was real and necessary! We had to develop a plan to put Klordane in a false sense of confidence."
"But why?" Chip asked.
"Because o’ these," Sir Wilfred said, pointing to a spotlighted table. Upon it were the temporal stabilizers Klordane had taken. It was only then Chip and the others realized they didn’t have theirs on.
"I know," Sir Wilfred said, "y’want to know why you’re still here. This room is the reason. It’s in essence a pocket o’ time. Now, to your question—we could do nothing while Klordane an’ his men ‘ad the temporal stabilizers on. We realized the only time they would remove ‘em was once they believed you were dead. So, we invented a scheme to convince him o’ precisely that."
"By the way, we have already taken the stabilizers from the others the Rangers defeated. They have returned to the current timeline," Jennifer said.
Sir Wilfred now turned his attention to Klordane. "Temporal crimes were deemed t’be the worst, since they altered the timeline at the expense o’ others. There’ve only been two other attempts t’compare with yours, but this ‘ere was the largest unresolved case."
"But if this is the past for you," Chip asked, "then why wasn’t it settled in the past? And how were you able to avoid being affected by the changes Nimnul made?"
"You’re thinking of time linearly, son," Roger said. "Time is not written in stone. It can be manipulated like anything else. But the temptation to do so was so great, bodies like this council had to be formed to deal with it. Punishment had to be made. To ensure it, members were chosen to live the remainder of their lives outside the timeline. Each of us has made that commitment, and that is why we were not affected."
"Speaking of punishment…Aldrin Klordane, this council has determined that you alone’ll bear the punishment for these acts," Sir Wilfred said.
Klordane showed a mixture of fear and anger. "What…what do you mean?"
Sir Wilfred sighed. "It’s a terrible thing to have t’pass judgment on anyone, but our duty’s clear. If you’re left free t’roam the universe, you’ll find a way t’repeat what you’ve done or worse."
"You’re going to…kill me?" Klordane asked.
"No. Capital punishment is banned in this ‘ere time period. We deliberated some time before we came up with a decision," Sir Wilfred said. "You’ll be given ample food and supplies t’survive, as well as a place o’ residence. But you will never again be allowed t’interact with the world o’ men or mice."
"Limbo….you’re putting me in limbo! No!" Klordane said. "I’d rather die than that!"
"We know," Bedivere said. "A simple lynchin’ would be real punishment for you. You’re gonna live, Klordane. You’ll live with the guilt of yer crimes and yer failures!"
"Yaaaaaaagrrrrh!" Klordane growled, struggling against his bonds.
Slowly, a ray cannon rose from under the floor. It locked in position with a hiss, and centered on Klordane. Nimnul and the others could only sympathize with him. Klordane tried to move, but found that his feet had been clamped in place.
"This is bein’ shown throughout the planetary alliance. We do this in the hope that it’ll prove the folly of usin’ knowledge for gain instead o’ for others," Sir Wilfred said.
All the council members stood at attention and the cannon was activated.
Klordane’s fetters fell off of him as he started to fade. He shook his fist at the Rangers. "I’ll get you, Rangers! Somehow! Somehow I’ll get out and you’ll rue the day you heard the name Aldrin K l o r d a n e…."
And then he was gone.
With that, the other members of Klordane’s gang were immediately sent back to their normal timeline.
"It’s over," Chip whispered. "The nightmare is finally over."
"Oh, son!" Jennifer shouted. "We’re so glad to see you again!"
Chip’s mom, now in her late forties, still held the glow of beauty and figure that had distinguished her in her youth. She ran and hugged her son tight. Roger was just behind.
"You’re putting on a little weight there, pop," Chip said, the tears flowing.
"Blame your mother’s good cooking there son," Roger said. "I’m proud of you, boy."
Gadget smiled at the reunion, but never took her eyes off the goggle-clad figure heading her way. It was almost as if she was afraid he’d disappear if she looked away.
"You got a hug for your old man, princess?" Geegaw said.
"DADDY!" Gadget cried, pulling her to him.
"My dear girl," Geegaw said. Her just held her as the joy came out in tears.
Dale held out his paw as Lucien Gerard D’Oakmont came toward him. The two Oakmonts shook hands.
"All for one!" Lucien said.
"And one for all!" Dale finished. "I see you haven’t forgotten. So you didn’t die in that fight at Lourdes after all."
"Ah, I should have mon enfant. I was ambushed by ze nefarious Rats of Rouen, bent on helping usurp ze king. Zey cornered me and pushed me from a high cliff. I thought I was ze goner, but alors I appeared here! Time was, as you say, on my side, no?" Lucien said.
Monty listened to Lucien’s explanation and then turned to Sir Wilfred, who had come to shake his hand. "But what about you, Sir Wilfred? If you are me ancestor, how could you be taken out ‘o the timeline?"
Sir Wilfred hesitated a moment. "Well, it’s true that me name is Wilfred, and I am an Erskine. But…I am not your ancestor."
"Then who are you?" Monty asked.
"I’m your great, great, great, grandson!" Wilfred said. "They did say I bore a strikin’ resemblance t’Sir Wilfred, though. I was chosen ‘cause I best knew the era from which you came. I’m an historian on your century."
"But not on zee 16th century, eh safari mouse?" Lucien shouted.
"Blimey! I’d wish you would let that go, Lucien! It was just a little mistake!" Wilfred said.
"Mistakes in time are too costly, Wil! Eef not for your expertise, you would not have been here!" Lucien retorted.
Monty grabbed Wilfred’s hand. "Well, I’m glad you are ‘ere Wilfred! Good t’know the line’s going to last so long!"
Foxglove hadn’t let go of her uncle Bedivere all this time.
"Easy, dear! I’m not as young as I used to be!" Bedivere said. "Like my pappy used to say, when that cotton gets white, you’ve got to treat it with kid gloves!"
Foxglove Fairmont looked at her uncle with curiosity, but the love was in his face. "I’m just so glad I got another chance to meet you!"
"Me too, dahlin! You were ahlways mah favorite!" Bedivere said.
Chip came up to Sir Wilfred now. "But will our lines last? Will everything go back just like it was?"
"We’ll do our best, Chip. When you leave this room you will snap back into your timeline. As far as we can determine, your multiple trips into the past did nothing to alter the proper present."
"But what about Klordane?" Gadget asked. "If he’s in Limbo now, how will we ever get together to stop him?"
"But you already have!" Geegaw said. "When you return to the present with your pasts intact, the present will be the present you know. Remember, Klordane was sentenced in the future."
"But you said time wasn’t linear," Chip said. "Are you sure?"
Wilfred smiled big. "If I’m wrong, we’ll fix it!"
Chip shook his hand. "Good enough for me. But will we remember any of this once we’re back in our timeline?"
"Normally, I would say no. However, you ‘ave been a service t’us all. So we’ll allow your memories t’stay intact," Sir Wilfred said. "Provided you do two things."
"Which are?" Chip asked.
"Allow us to visit!" Sir Wilfred said.
Chip smiled at that. "Anytime! And number two?"
Sir Wilfred turned to the mouse inventor. "Gadget, you’ll need to let Basil and Arianna have your time machine."
Gadget did a slight double-take. "But why? Surely you can send them back…."
Geegaw put his arm around Gadget’s shoulder. "That not the reason why, honey. We will have to block their memories of this time. Knowledge of future events is dangerous, even in good hands. But since it’s your past, you can know."
"Know what, dad?" Gadget asked.
Geegaw put his hands on Gadget’s shoulders. "Princess, you’ll always be my little girl and I’ll always be your dad. But…I’m not your father."
"What!?" Gadget said. "But that’s impossible!"
"Not when time is involved," Geegaw said. "You see, the book you have is the unofficial version of your histories. Here’s the classified one."
Gadget opened the book and read:
Gadget Hackwrench – Born Arianna Victoria Hackwrench to Basil and Arianna Hackwrench. When Gadget was an infant, Basil and Arianna were forced into a deathtrap by French terrorist and assassin Jacques Renaud. To save the Queen, they sacrificed themselves and were assumed killed in an explosion that was intended for the Queen’s carriage. In recognition of the help they provided this council, Basil and Arianna were saved and made members of it. After their initiation, they had the option of leaving little Arianna with any member of their family past or future. They chose Geegaw, and his memories were altered without his knowledge—until he became a member of this council. [See Hackwrench, Geegaw]
Gadget closed the book. "Is this why you never pursued your past, Dad?"
Geegaw nodded. "I was given a set of memories so that I would believe you were my daughter and that my wife had died years ago. I never knew the difference, and there was no one to challenge the backstory so I raised you as my own."
Gadget looked to Arianna. "But that means…"
"I guess I’m your mother!" Arianna said. Gadget and Arianna hugged, and for the first time Gadget realized why she’d be able to open up to her before. Then she looked at Basil.
"I realize you’ll never think of me as a father," Basil said. "So why don’t you think of me as your favorite uncle?"
Gadget came to Basil and hugged him too. "Okay…uncle Basil!" Then she whispered, "I love you, father."
"A daughter…I’m going to have a daughter. The most beautiful there is," Basil said softly.
Arianna went to Geegaw. "Grandson, brother…I don’t know what to call you."
"How about friend?" Geegaw said. "That always works. I was glad to raise your daughter. I’m proud of her, and proud of you. All of you."
Basil came and put a hand on Geegaw’s shoulder. "Grandson, you’re pretty top notch yourself."
That set off a round of chuckles. Then Chip and his family came over.
"But if Gadget was taken as an infant, how did Geegaw get born?" Chip asked.
"I can answer that," Geegaw said. "You see, they had more than one child. Gadget was their second child. Their first was named Horatio. He was old enough to go live with the rest of the Hackwrench family when Basil and Arianna left."
"You mean we abandon him?" Arianna asked.
"No, it was his choice too. Horatio turns out to be a loner—independent you know. He leaves England and goes to America and eventually become a flyer in the first world war," Geegaw said.
"You mean old ‘dust-em-up’ Hackwrench was my brother?" Gadget asked.
"None other," Geegaw said. "That make you my aunt, and my daughter!"
Chip shook his head. "Temporal paradoxes. Never will get used to them."
Jennifer took Gadget’s hand. "So Chip, this is the one you’ve had your eye on? She’s lovely."
Chip blushed (naturally), and Gadget did as well. Geegaw looked Chip over
"Reminds me of myself in my barnstorming days. Well, princess, do you like him?" Geegaw asked.
Gadget was put on the spot, something she’d never liked. "Well, dad, it’s nothing we’ve really discussed. I like Chip, true. We’re great friends. But I don’t think I’m ready for anything more yet."
Chip let out a sigh of relief. "I’m glad you said it Gadget, or I’d have had to."
"You feel the same way?" Gadget asked.
"Yeah. I didn’t want to admit it, but I guess neither of us are really ready for marriage or anything," Chip said. "It was just that, well, with Dale and Foxglove..."
"You felt obligated," Gadget said. "I could sense that."
Geegaw came to Chip and pulled him over, taking Gadget’s hand in his other. "Well, whatever your future, I’m glad to see you’re both good people. Especially you, princess."
"Uh, Mr. Hackwrench?" Dale said..
"Call my Geegaw, boy!" Geegaw said.
"Why do you keep calling her princess?" Dale asked.
Geegaw laughed deep. "It goes back to her eighth birthday. I asked her what she wanted…"
"Daaaaaad…" Gadget said.
Geegaw looked down at her with a smirk. "She said she wanted to be a princess. So I arranged for the boys at the Flying Tigers club to treat her as princess for a day. Everyone was at her command! You should have seen it—those old flying aces were kneeling and scraping to her and loving every minute of it."
"Aw, dad. Why’d you have to go and tell that?" Gadget asked. "Now they’ll think I’m stuck up or something."
"You loved it too, and you know it," Geegaw said. "Every time she went in the club with me after that, she’d say, ‘the princess is here’! The title just stuck, like Gadget."
Wilfred came over and joined the talk. "I hate t’be a spoilsport, but Basil an’ Arianna need t’get down t’the lab so they can have their memories blocked."
"So soon?" Basil asked.
"It’s better this way," Wilfred said.
Suddenly Gadget realized something. "Wait, please! Could I ask a favor?"
Gadget whispered into Wilfred’s ear. "Hmm…I don’t see why not. It shouldn’t cause a problem."
"What? What?" Dale asked.
"We’re going to a wedding!" Gadget said. She turned to Basil and Arianna. "That is, as long as you don’t mind having your daughter there."
"Mind?!" Arianna said. "It would be perfect. Well, not that the wedding would be perfect. Well, it would since you’d be there…"
"Yep, that’s Gadget’s mother all right!" Monty said, coming over with Bedivere. They’d been discussing old stories.
"Hey, we’re comin’ to this heah shindig, aren’t we?" Bedivere asked.
Wilfred sighed. "I’ll go get the stabilizers."
"Yeeeee-hah! It’s gonna be a hot time in the ‘ol town tonight!" Bedivere said.
Two days later, Chip stood in Westminster Abbey. As with Buckingham Palace, there was a section of the old church reserved for the animal world. It was just as ornate as the human version, and just as revered. The Queen was in attendance, as an honor to Basil and Arianna—both honored subjects of her majesty. The guest list was some of the most influential members of British animal society.
Chip had been chosen to be best man, an honor he was more than glad to fulfil. Gadget had been named maid of honor, and everyone else was serving as ushers or bridesmaids. Chip was at the front of the church, in a custom tailored suit. Arianna had seen to it that all the men and ladies had appropriate attire. She’d also talked him out of wearing his fedora.
The ushers took their places, and Chip mused on how unique a wedding it was where your as-yet-unborn daughter and grandson were attending! Then he saw her. Gadget had agreed to dress up for the occasion, and Arianna had gotten her a gown of paisley blue silk to match her eyes with a wide blue ribbon just a shade lighter at the waist. Her hair was up, in the style of the day. She’d also agreed to wear a bit of makeup. In short, Chip couldn’t take his eyes off her.
Basil walked up to Chip, a half-nervous wreck. "Is everything ready? The ring?"
Chip patted his pocket. "Right here, Basil. Don’t worry. Everything is fine."
Basil gulped, and tried to calm down but failed miserably. "Chip, I’m going to tell you something that I’d never thought I’d hear myself say. I’m frightened out of my wits."
Chip held back a laugh. "Basil, that’s natural for weddings! Trust me, you’re doing the right thing."
"It’s not that," Basil said. "I love Arianna and want to marry her. But all these people, and the Queen besides! Suppose I make a mistake…"
"Nonsense. You’ll do fine. When you see her face smiling at you, you’ll see," Chip said.
With that, the giant pipe organ in front of them sounded the start of the wedding march. The ushers and bridesmaids came in, then the organ sounded the warning for everyone to stand. Basil stood transfixed.
Arianna was wearing a bridal gown of white embroidered silk trimmed with gold. The veil trailed long behind her. Jenkins escorted her to the front, in step with the wedding march.
Soon, the ceremony was over, and the bellmice rang the church bells to signal the wedding was over. Basil kissed Arianna, and the usual wedding tears, hugs and congratulations went around. Arianna threw the bouquet and Gadget caught it, causing a lot of winks and blushes to go around. The Queen came forward and congratulated Basil and Arianna warmly.
Once the reception was over and all the guests taken care of, Gadget changed back to her regular clothes as fast as she could. She met up with her dad outside the church. He’d noticed how uncomfortable she’d been with the bouquet.
"You never did learn to socialize with the boys, did you?" Geegaw asked.
Gadget shook her head. "It just didn’t seem right, somehow. You weren’t there, and I’d never had to before."
"Princess, you’ve got a good thing going with young Chip. But if he leaves you, I’m telling you it’s going to be your fault," Geegaw said.
"My fault? So you think I should just marry him, then?" Gadget said, a bit angry.
"I didn’t say that. I think Chip’s right, and neither of you are really ready yet. But I’ve seen the looks between you two. All I’m saying is, give the lad a chance. He seems to be a nice boy," Geegaw said.
"He is, and that’s what worries me," Gadget said. "What if I give him a chance and we find out we don’t really love each other? We couldn’t go back to being friends again!"
"I think you’re more than friends already. You’d give your life to save his, wouldn’t you?" Geegaw asked.
"Yes," Gadget said.
Geegaw started walking, and Gadget went with him. "And I know he would for you. You’re special to each other. Now, it’s just a question of what kind of special. You need to find out."
"I suppose," Gadget said. "But I don’t feel ready for that, either."
"You have to start somewhere, princess. You’ve been hiding from your life too long. You really missed me, didn’t you?" Geegaw asked.
"More than you’ll know! I…I had shut myself up in the old plane and built traps everywhere," Gadget said. "If the Rangers hadn’t come along, I’d still be there."
"Didn’t I tell you to get away from those engines every now and then? You’ve never as much as been on a date," Geegaw said.
"Okay, okay! I’ll give it a try," Gadget said. "But let me do it on my own terms. I just don’t know how Chip’s going to react."
"Mom, I know she’s not sure! I’m not going to push her!" Chip said.
Jennifer looked at him with narrowed eyes. "If you’re anything like your father, you will."
"Jenny!" Roger said.
"Well, it’s true. You were so inexperienced at dating and so forward, I almost dumped you after the first date!" Jennifer retorted.
Roger smiled coyly. "Why didn’t you?"
"Because I realized you were as helpless as a turtle on his back. That, and you were as cute as the hills," Jennifer said.
"And here I thought it was my Frank Sinatra imitation!" Roger said jokingly. "Seriously though, son. Gadget looks like a great girl, but she’s the kind you have to go slow with."
"How do you know?" Chip said.
"I talked with her dad a good bit before the wedding. It seems she’s avoided dating all these years, probably because of him. He’s going to try to encourage her," Roger said.
"While you try to discourage me," Chip quipped.
"You know what we mean, son," Jennifer said. "Remember your manners, don’t make her feel uncomfortable. And whatever she says goes."
"I know, I know," Chip said. "Gosh, we’ve known each other for ten years!"
"But you’re never dated," Jennifer retorted. "That’s an entirely different thing."
"Yeah, I guess so," Chip answered. "Are you coming back with us?"
"No, son," Roger said. "We’ll be visiting though. We’re allowed to drop by twice a year."
"The door’s always open for you two. Maybe you could join us on a case!" Chip said.
"Afraid not, Chip," Jennifer said. "We can’t afford to jeopardize the past like that. But we will look forward to every opportunity to see you and all your friends!"
Foxglove and Dale had spent most of their time listening to their ancestors argue over whose line was better. Uncle Bedivere had recited the story of every Fairmont, right back to Sagramore Fayremounte—the founder of the line.
"Why he was the toughest hombre the old country ever saw!" Bedivere said. "No bat would fly anywhere near his tower, ‘cause they knew ol’ Sagramore would skin ‘em alive!"
"Hah!" Lucien said. "He ees nothing compared to my great grandfather! Louis Auguste Renard D’Oakmont, the founder of our line! He was ze bravest Oakmont of zem all! He held ze bridge at ze Pyranees against ze Spanish conquistamouse Jose Louis Alvarez, ze scourge of Pampalosa!"
"Chicken feed, boy!" Bedivere said. The nearly-white bat was about to start a new story when Foxglove broke in.
"Please, give it a rest for a while!" Foxy said. "Uncle, I’m glad we had so many illustrious members of the family. Still, that doesn’t make us better than any other."
"But.." Bedivere tried to protest.
"And the Oakmonts are great, but she’s right Lucien," Dale said. "We’ll let the stories go for now."
"Oh, very well," Lucien said.
Foxglove whispered to Dale, and he smiled at his wife. "Right! Let’s go get the others!"
Monty and Zipper were off alone now. Monty had already said goodbye to his descendent, and now was talking over the events with his lifelong friend.
"I don’t know why you always seem to be left out, Zipper me pal! Maybe its just your size," Monty said.
Zipper buzzed and indicated he didn’t want to be big again like the time Nimnul enlarged him. He just wanted a little respect.
"But we do respect you, lad! The Rangers wouldn’t be the Rangers without ya! This grand adventure should prove that much," Monty said.
Zipper buzzed discontentedly. He still wanted some kind of recognition.
Dale and Foxglove came walking up. "Hey, Zipper! It’s time to go home! You and me will get to play Superspy again!"
Zipper perked up at that news. He asked Dale if he really wanted to.
"Do I?! I miss my adventures with my favorite right-hand fly!" Dale said.
That did it. Zipper was in a good mood again. He flew over and hugged Dale and Foxglove. Then he and Monty joined them to find Chip and Gadget. They found them saying goodbye to their families.
"So we’ll see you all in six months?" Chip asked.
"It’s a deal!" Roger said. "We’ll bring everyone."
More good-byes were said, then Wilfred touched a device on his wrist and a time portal opened for them. "You will go back to the time just after you last left," Wilfred said. The Rangers waved as they went through. Once through, they emerged in the park and removed their temporal stabilizers and threw them back through the portal.
"Council members, we now come to a hard decision," Wilfred said. "During the mission, council member Geegaw retrieved this 'ere girl from the alternate timeline. It's in our hands as t'what will happen to her."
As the alternate Gadget stepped forward, Geegaw stood. "My friends, you know that I am neither rash nor ill-advised in my decisions. I chose to save this young girl because she saved our allies. She is not perfect, but she deserves a chance to exist."
"If you introduce me to the current timeline, what do you propose to call me?" Gadget asked. "Gadget the second?"
Geegaw walked down and hugged her. "I know this is hard on you. But the only way we can let you back into the timeline is if we erase your memories and give you new ones."
"New memories? You mean I won't remember who I am or what I've learned?" Gadget asked.
"You've already shown that you are different from the Gadget indigenous to this timeline. We'll just be completing that difference. If you do not agree, you may remain here. However, you will never be allowed back into the normal timeline," Geegaw said.
Gadget didn't have to think it over long. "Okay, I want a life. It may not be my life, but at least it's a life."
Soon, Gadget was in the lab. Geegaw watched over her as the advanced machinery did its work.
"You had better change her voice as well," Geegaw said. "That way, she'll never guess that she and Gadget are actually the same. Then again, I wonder if she really was Gadget with the attitude she had. Still, time does have a way of changing things. I just pray my daughter never ends up like this."
On a beach in the Pacific, a young female mouse opens her eyes. The warm trade winds blow her honey blonde hair. She looks down, and realizes she's dressed as an islander. Then, she sees them--a group of mice converge on her, led by a portly chieftain.
"I am Hubba-Hubba. Who you?" the chief asks.
The girl searched her mind, but nothing was coming to her. "That's funny. I did know once, but I don't seem to know now."
Hubba-Hubba helped her up. "You stay with us then. Until you remember, I call you...Lahwhinie."
As the Rescue Rangers walked toward home, Dale turned to Chip. "What were we doing before all this?"
"Seems to me we were bored because nothing was happening," Chip said.
"Man, sounds perfect to me now! I’ll take a straight week of it!" Monty said.
Everyone agreed that a week off sounded good. Once they were back inside Ranger Headquarters and sure everything was back to normal, each Ranger settled into their favorite activities.
Then Chip remembered a promise he’d made and excused himself. Once he explained, everyone agreed he should go, but Chip wasn’t so sure. Still, a promise was a promise—even if he could only keep it here.
Chip climbed up another oak tree and knocked on the door. A large female squirrel answered.
"Oh, Chip! You haven’t been around here in quite some time. Come in!" the squirrel said.
Chip stood where he was. "That’s okay, Mrs. Chestnut. Actually, I wanted to know if Tammy.."
"Chipper!" Tammy shouted. She ran out and hugged him. "Hiya, cute stuff!"
Mrs. Chestnut looked sternly at her daughter. "Tammy, remember what I said about controlling yourself. You’ll have to excuse her, Chip. And call me Martha."
Chip was even more uncomfortable than usual around Tammy, because of what he had to ask next. "Well then, Martha, I was wondering if it was okay if I took Tammy to the circus."
Tammy’s eyes lit up like firecrackers on the Fourth of July. "You…you’re asking me out!? Oh, mom, canIcanIcanIcanI?"
"One thing first, Chip," Martha said. "Why are you doing this?"
Chip was doing his best to keep from getting crushed in Tammy's vise grip. "It’s a long story, but I owe it to her in a way. I’ll have to explain it to her first and then she can explain it to you."
"Okay, then," Martha said. "Just remember it’s a date Tammy and not a betrothal. I’ve got a feeling he’s being nice to you for a reason."
At the moment, Tammy didn’t care. "I’ll remember! And we’ll be back before it’s too late!"
Tammy took Chip’s arm and dreamily looked up at him. "Let’s go, dreamboat!"
Chip did his best not to wince at that, and he led her off to the circus. Tammy had a glorious time with the games, the rides and the food. Then again, everything could have been terrible but she wouldn’t have noticed with Chip at her side. Finally they started home. Tammy had a big plush teddy bear that Chip had won for her, and was holding his hand. Then it occurred to her to ask.
"Chip, why did you take me out?" Tammy asked.
"I was waiting for you to ask," Chip said. "It’s a long story, but a good one."
An hour later, Chip returned to Ranger Headquarters. For him, the world was a much more peaceful place now. There was no one in the living room, and it looked like everyone had decided to catch up on the sleep they’d all sorely missed. Chip had to admit, he was feeling the pull of his bed. Still, he couldn’t sleep. Not yet.
Chip sat down on the couch, and pulled out his pad. He began to write and the feeling of tiredness was forgotten. Soon, he was immersed, and didn’t notice when Gadget came out of the hall. She walked up behind him and read over his shoulder. Then Chip finished and he suddenly realized he had an audience.
"Oh, hi Gadget! I didn’t know you were there!" Chip said, feeling a bit awkward.
Gadget came and sat by him. "It’s a good poem, Chip. I didn’t know you wrote at all. Why didn’t you tell us?"
Chip rubbed the back of his neck. "Well, it’s just sorta personal. I do it when I need to sort out my feelings. Actually, most of the things in here are…about you."
Now it was Gadget’s turn to feel awkward. "I know it’s been tough on you, Chip. But I don’t want you to feel like you can’t tell me things. Can I see the notepad?"
Chip looked at it, and then at Gadget. "The only thing is…when I met up with the Gadget from the other universe and she saw the poems…"
"Chip Maplewood! I’m surprised at you. Do you think I’m going to get carried away by a bit of poetry?" Gadget asked.
Chip handed over the notebook. Gadget turned to the front, and read them. At first, the crossness at her answering Chip marked her face. Then it changed to neutral, then to a smile.
"Chip, these are beautiful! Why didn’t you show me these before?" Gadget asked.
"Well..uh..because…because I didn’t think they were good enough," Chip said.
He looked up, and saw that Gadget knew he was lying. "Okay! I was concerned that if you saw them, you’d know how much I care about you and you wouldn’t care about me and I’d be miserable the rest of my life!"
Gadget just looked at him for a minute, then the smile returned. Then she started to laugh, and that was all it took. She laughed and Chip laughed and it was as if some invisible person was there tickling both of them. Chip fell off the couch for laughing, and then Gadget helped him up. They went outside, out of courtesy to the others.
The others however had heard them. As one, the remainder of the Rangers crept into the living room and looked out the window. There, in the moonlight, Gadget and Chip were laughing a bit still. If they knew they were being watched, they were too polite to let on.
Chip felt a great weight lift from him. All this time, he’d been worried how Gadget would react. Now all was right with the world. He told her so.
"Chip, would you be surprised to know the same weight is off of me, too?" Gadget asked.
"You?" Chip asked.
Gadget nodded. "I knew we’d have to have this conversation sometime and I’ve been dreading it. Now that it’s come and gone, I wonder what I was so uptight about."
"Probably that I’d insist on marriage or nothing, or something like that," Chip said.
"Something like that," Gadget agreed.
Chip took Gadget’s hand. "Gadget, I’m happy to be your friend right now. In fact I’m relieved to be your friend. If the future holds more for us, then fine. If not, I’ll always be glad knowing you’ll be there for me."
Gadget looked into his eyes, and she found she didn’t have a problem doing that like she had. "Chip, I’ll be there for you. The time we’ve just been through has made me realize how much a part of me you are. I need you as much as you need me. It may be a long time before I can commit to someone Chip, but I hope it will be to someone as nice as you."
For several minutes, the mouse and chipmunk said nothing, content to be in each other’s company. The pressure was off, and the world was theirs. Finally, Gadget broke the silence. "Chip, read me the poem you just did."
Time is a tie
That binds our lives
It flies by
Round the river bend
When my life
Finishes its course
My beloved friend
You stuck your paddle
In next to mine
You righted me
And helped me
Run the course
We’ve had troubles
Along the way
We capsized sometimes
But we always
Found the source
Of our strength
In each other
That we’ll run
The rapids together
Come what may
Season by season
Day by day
Friends and more
Let’s keep paddling
There’s more to see
Life’s over that way!
I want to thank you all for putting up with me and my desire to write an epic adventure. I hope the trips through time were worth it to you. They certainly were for me! Time is a river that leads to endless possibilities. May your trip be smooth and trouble-free.
Basil of Baker Street and the Rescue Rangers are copyright Disney and used without permission, but with the utmost respect. Arianna Hackwrench, Sir Wilfred "Gouda" Erskine, Lucien Gerard D'Oakmont, Uncle Bedivere Fairmont, King Buzzor, Buzzor the second, The Gummin, Roger Maplewood and Jennifer Maplewood are all copyright Indy.
Chapter Three, Part One
Chapter Three, Part Two